Pope Francis will help Colombians celebrate the official end of the country’s 52-year civil war by urging the country to cultivate true peace, said Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, a Colombian who serves as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.
Archbishop Ruiz, who had been archbishop of Villavicencio, will accompany Pope Francis on his visit to Colombia from 6th to 10th September, including to Villavicencio, where the focus will be on reconciliation with God, among Colombians and with the environment.
Pope Francis will celebrate a prayer service for national reconciliation in the city on 8th September; about 6,000 people have been invited, including victims of the civil war, surviving family members and former members of guerrilla groups and militias, said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office.
“Right now in Colombia, the Church is encouraging that yearning for peace that is everywhere,” Archbishop Ruiz told reporters at the Vatican on 1st September. “But I must distinguish between that desire for peace that all Colombians have and the signing of this treaty” for peace between the government and the largest rebel group, known as FARC. “They are two different things.”
Picture: Members of the Colombian presidential guard stand next to a commemorative stamp with an image of Pope Francis In Bogota on 28th August. Pope Francis will visit Colombia from 6th to 10th September. (CNS photo/Jaime Saldarriaga, Reuters).